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“The first priority which the BJP led government could think of is Article 370.”

Highlights of the Press briefing Held at 1630 Hours 28.05.2014

Shri Abhishek Manu Singhvi addressed the media today.

Shri Abhishek Manu Singhvi said it is clear that all the rhetoric and all the camouflage about so-called ‘vikas’, ‘development’ – a phrase by the BJP was just that – something only as a camouflage till the elections were on. Barely a day after taking the oath, we have diverse, divisive agendas nakedly out in the front. It is a day of entering the office, the first priority which the BJP led government could think of is Article 370. According to us, each and every comment and statement is deliberate, thought out orchestrated and intended to politicize and polarize. First the Minister of State – no less than the PMO office – makes a statement, the statement is on candid camera in detail, it is then retracted, then the remote control from Nagpur speaks on it, then senior leaders of the BJP run to discuss with the remote control. This is not a flip flop flip. It is a carefully orchestrated attempt to politicize and polarize not only in J&K but across the country. It is intended to be inflammatory, divisive, and provocative and most important the BJP knows that they cannot do it.
The BJP knows that they do not have the numbers and the mandate, but it is thrown in with a view to state elections. It is thrown in with a view to divide and inflame the electorate not only as I said there but on a pan- India basis. It is most unfortunate that such tactics are used so early after an election. It is most unfortunate that things which are not politically possible, numerically feasible, constitutionally correct, are being thrown into to confuse, confound and create the polarization and the politicization. We condemn it unequivocally and roundly.

On the question of submission of wrong affidavit to the Election Commission by HRD Minister Smriti Irani and the question related to it, Shri Singhvi said please be clear we are not making any personal comments. We are not interested in any personal issues. That is not the object at all. When the Chairman of our Communication Department made the comment yesterday or some of us spoke on it, we clarified, that this is nothing personal about it. There are two issues and today the second issue is most important than the first. The first issue of today is a mis-statement – a clear mis-statement, distortion in her 2014 affidavit which is unfortunately a serious criminal offence, it has electoral consequences, the mis-statement is simple in the 2004 affidavit she has clearly claimed to be Graduate – BA of 1996. In the 2014 affidavit it is specified that it is only BA Part I and that only means one year and not a full degree. So, 2004 affidavit has a mis-statement. We do not know whether the 2014 is a mis-statement or 2004 is a mis-statement but both cannot be true. That is the main issue. That is not the personal issue. Second issue is – we have not raised issues and this is the distortion by the BJP about people having or not having educational qualification whether it is 5th class, 8th class pass, Ph.D. or MA. That is not the issue at all which we have raised. You know very well that there are other Ministers in the government whose qualifications are of eighth class school, 6th class school. We have not raised that issue. We are not interested in personal issues. What we have said is the appropriateness, the context of this Ministry matching with this optics. That is the short issue we have raised, that is the second issue. Today the most important first issue is the mis-statement on affidavit. It cannot all also be forgotten that this august Ministry has been headed by names like Maulana Azad, Fakhruddin Ahmed, Prof. Nurul Hasan, VKRV Rao, Sidharth Shankar Ray, Karan Singh, KC Pant, VP Singh, M.M. Joshi. I am going across parties. Therefore, please do not deliberately distort our stand, it is a principled stand and I think it is not right to trivialize the issue.

Shri Singhvi further added first of all, as I said, the point I am making, which is fresh from the oven, is a point of mis-statement. That is the point for today. You are talking of 24 hour old point. Second point that it is a post where you head the Boards of IITs, IIMs, is Education Ministry and we are talking of that nexus. I am entirely in agreement with you that no qualification is either specified or desirable for generally being in public life. That is not the point at all.

On the question of the portfolios distributed amongst the BJP Ministers, Shri Singhvi said you are welcome to interpret it but my question has nothing to do with normal education qualifications. I have said so five times. We are talking of the nexus, the appropriateness, the appositeness of a body headed by the names that I have given involving heading and decision making qua the Boards of IITs, IIMs and the nexus to the lack of educational qualification. That is the limited point  I am making.

On the question that the government wants that the Congress party being opposition party today should cooperate with the government when the session starts, Shri Singhvi said I can start with an old saying – do unto others as you would have them to want to you but let me assure them that we are not interested in reciprocal harassment. There is no doubt your cameras have captured the harassment which UPA-I and II has suffered in parliament by repeated continuous disruptions and loss of valuable parliamentary time. I have no hesitation in saying so and party to party, the proportions have a difference of ‘Zameen’ and ‘Aasman’ as far as Congress and the B JP are concerned but we unlike the BJP believe in constructive opposition.              We believe in raising issues forcefully but we do not believe in disruptions. We have to wait and watch. We have to see but I can say that our philosophy and our approach on this matter have been vastly different even in the past. After all we were in the opposition from 1998 to 2004 and the record will show the difference of degree and kind at that time.

On the question of reaction of the Congress party on the statement of the Minority Minister that only ‘Parsis’ are minority, Shri Singhvi said I don’t think she said or meant that. Nobody can say only ‘X’ is a minority. I early it is early days yet. She has said she will come up with a response after she discusses with her Prime Minister and let us wait for that. I think I will give the benefit of doubt to her because it is obviously wrong statement and therefore cannot be meant to be that.

Sd/-

 (Tom Vadakkan)

Secretary

Communication Deptt.

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